Friday, February 12, 2010

Today I just spent ages getting together a bunch of photos of the progress on our house, but Blogger isn't letting me post any pics today. This is not the first time this has happened...Any other bloggers out there finding Blogger a bit buggy lately?

Well, it's not like there's nothing to write about. Mallory is feeling very perky again, so that's great. JP is finally coming back from Ouaga on Sunday.

And also: Martha Barnette wrote an email to ME!!!

SRSLY! And no, it wasn't a form letter for a funding drive or something lame like that. It was a very friendly answer to an email I'd sent in...
Wait a minute...
You DO remember who Martha is, right? She, her co-host Grant, and their amazing radio show have made it onto two of my "Top Ten" lists over the last few months(here and here). I'm sure you rushed right to the show website and downloaded many episodes, right?
Go do it now. I'll wait here.
You're back?
Good. Listen to an episode after you get done reading this post. You'll thank me.

Back to the business at hand: Yesterday afternoon I had to go pick up my older kids and a few of their friends at school. As is my custom, I listened to my ipod over the radio (Thank you, Technology Gods!). I was really looking forward to the 20 minute trip because I had a new episode of "A Way With Words" waiting for me. I was not disappointed (never am, actually). Like usual, there were many listener questions called in. One that caught my attention was about the term "swan song". The caller had heard and even used the term many times, but had no idea where it originated. I actually didn't find the answer all that interesting, because I already knew it; (+in case you don't know and have decided not to take my advice to listen to the show: The ancient greeks believed there was a variety of swan that stayed silent its entire life until the very end. Then it would sing a beautiful song and immediately die.
The story was already discredited by Roman times, but the idea stuck around. Shakespeare even used the concept a few times.)
The discussion made me think of a wonderful song that I've performed. In fact, I sang it as part of a quartet in Ouagadougou at the US Embassy. (I'm the one in pink) The Ambassador herself sang the alto part. (She was an excellent singer, too. Multitalented!)
The memory prompted me to jot off this qucik email to the program:
Dear Grant and Martha,

Besides being a fan of your entertaining and educational show, I'm also a fan of renaissance music. When on your most recent program, you discussed the term "swan song", I immediately thought of this beautiful madrigal composed by the great Orlando Gibbons in 1612.

The Silver Swan, who living, had no note
When death approached unlocked her silent throat.
Leaning her breast against the reedy shore,
Thus sang her first and last, and sang no more.
Farewell all joys,
Oh, death, come close mine eyes.
More geese than swans now live
More fools than wise.

Just thought I'd share.

I am a US citizen (born in Nebraska) and currently living in the French Alps with my French husband and four bilingual children. We learn something from every podcast and usually have a good laugh, as well.
Thanks for putting together a great show week after week.

Beth Jacob

Within about an hour, I got this in my inbox:

Wow, that is really cool. Thanks, Beth! Maybe I’ll share that on a later podcast. And how cool — living in the Alps with bilingual kids sounds fantastic.

Thanks again!


Martha Barnette
Cohost, "A Way with Words

I'd been expecting, at best, a canned response "Thanks for your interest" kind of thing and I thought it was VERY amazing that she took the time to write back.

My first reponse was to yell "Hey everybody! Martha emailed me!!!"
This brought all four of my kids stampeding up to my attic office to behold the wonder of it. They were all very happy for me and rather pleased that she thinks that living with them "sounds fantastic" (which it is, mostly).

But Tya was very careful to inform me "Martha is still NOT your friend. You know that right? She is a radio host that you have never met. Don't make her think you are a creepy stalker."

Ah, teenagers. They always know what to say...


babzee said...

Since I am one of YOUR creepy stalkers, I take a little umbrage from your daughter's snarky attitude. Martha would LOVE to be your friend, and she will probably be looking for a place to stay on her next ski trip to the Alps (she looks fit). Tell Tya she can have HER room! (Were Tya and Molly Separated At Birth? Sounds like at least a psychic connection.)

babzee said...

I once got a phone call from Rush Limbaugh - does that count?

oreneta said...


I so have to thank you for getting me onto that show. I listened to that podcast too.....probably the same day! Lucky dog.

Beth said...

babzee- If you are a creepy stalker, then I shall be proud to count myself one.
Also: Why on EARTH did that crazy man phone you????!!

Rocky- I'm SO pleased you have discovered the joys of AWWW!! I KNEW you'd love it!

Liz said...

Great post! I love "AWWW" too. Funny how your kids keep you in check about being a potential stalker. How do you say 'stalker' in French?

-Liz, San Diego

The Pliers said...

I hope that you are keeping a notebook (how old-fashioned of me–duh–you have a blog!) of the "funny things kids say" to share with your children when they start having kids of their own.

I am so delighted that you received a response from Martha, of whom I know naught, but even more delighted that you took the time to write to her. That is fantastic! "Creepy stalker" potential notwithstanding. Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!